DiversifYA: Lilly D’Argenio, part two

LillyHey guys! Today, we welcome Lilly D’Argenio back to the blog! Lilly is a queer pagan YA writer (awesome, no?) and author of RESCUED. She joined us a little while ago to talk about paganism, and she’s back now to talk about being queer! Yay!

Once you’ve read her amazing answers, follow Lilly on Twitter here.

1. How do you identify yourself?

I identify as queer. I am mainly attracted to women, but I have found one guy that I am attracted to.

2. What did it feel like growing up queer?

As a kid, sexuality wasn’t even something I thought about. I was just me. I played with girls and boys alike, and neither made me feel different. It wasn’t until Junior High that I started questioning things. The summer before 6th grade I had gotten my hair cut incredibly short–like Ellen’s. When I started school my classmates chuckled behind their hands and turned to me, asking if I was a lesbian. I had been brought up Christian and my parents never even mentioned the word gay before, though I knew what that was. But until that moment in Junior High, I had never heard the term Lesbian before. I answered no (though I don’t think they believed me), ran home and looked up the definition. That’s when the exploration began.

In High School, while watching a Britney Spears video, I finally admitted to myself that I was, in fact, attracted to women. I panicked at first, because my family so heavily frowned upon gay people. When I went to school, I encountered people teasing the openly bisexual girl. I felt sorry for her, and wanted to talk to her just to have someone that could relate to what I was going through. But I was scared to. I’d already been through years of teasing; I didn’t want to bring on more.

3. What are the biggest challenges? Conversely, what are the quirks/perks?

One of the biggest challenges is just being seen as a normal human being. People look at a LGBTQ person and that is all they see. They see us as just being gay, lesbian, or bi and don’t realize there is so much more to us.

This is obvious, but probably the biggest challenge is just being free to love who you love. Even if you live in one of the twelve states that allows same sex marriage, you can still encounter homophobia if you go out with your partner (of the same gender) and hold hands or kiss or do any kind of “couple” thing.

A perk would be that being in the LGBTQ community tends to make people more open minded. We tend to be a little more accepting, I think, of other people’s differences. For example, if someone is Pagan, or Muslim. We don’t just see the person’s religion–we see the person and accept them as they are.

I’d count the community itself as a perk as well. If you’re involved in an LGBTQ community, you have a support group at your back. There’s always someone there that can understand the trials and pitfalls of being LGBTQ. And sometimes that’s the greatest thing.

4. What do you wish people knew about being queer?

That being queer isn’t the sum of who we are. Yes, I’m attracted to girls. But I’m also a writer, a gardener, Pagan, nerdfighter, gamer and roleplayer.

5. What are the biggest cliches/stereotypes you’ve seen?

The overly feminine gay man, or the butch woman.

Recently, my grandmother’s boyfriend saw on his granddaughter’s Facebook that she was married to a friend that was a girl. Alarmed, he came and asked me if she “looked gay”. I told him honestly, “I don’t know. There isn’t really a ‘gay look’. Lesbians can be as feminine as Princess Diana or as butch as Hulk Hogan.”

BONUS: What is your advice for writers writing diverse characters?

Don’t make the thing that makes them diverse the totality of their make up. A lesbian should have far more to her than just being attracted to other girls. Is she into sports or prom dresses…or both? Is she Christian, Pagan, Zoroastrian? Does she love or hate animals? Have allergies?

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